4. What can true prayer achieve?
Relevant Words of God:
People may be able to carry out the practice of prayer and to understand the significance of prayer, but for prayer to be effective is no simple matter. Prayer is not a case of just going through the motions, following procedure, or reciting the words of God. That is to say, praying is not parroting certain words and it is not imitating others. In prayer, one must reach the state where one’s heart can be given to God, laying open one’s heart so that it may be moved by God. If prayer is to be effective, then it must be based on the reading of God’s words. Only by praying from within God’s words can one receive greater enlightenment and illumination. The manifestations of a true prayer are: Having a heart that yearns for all that God asks, and moreover desires to accomplish what He demands; detesting that which God detests and then, building on this foundation, gaining some understanding of it, and having some knowledge and clarity regarding the truths God expounds. Where there is resolution, faith, knowledge, and a path of practice following prayer, only then can it be called true prayer, and only this type of prayer can be effective. Yet prayer must be built upon the enjoyment of God’s words, it must be established on the foundation of communing with God in His words, and the heart must be able to seek God and become quiet before Him. Prayer of this kind has already entered the stage of true communion with God.
Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Be an honest person; pray to God to rid you of the deception in your heart. Purify yourself through prayer at all times, be moved by the Spirit of God through prayer, and your disposition will gradually change. The true spiritual life is a life of prayer—it is a life that is moved by the Holy Spirit. The process of being moved by the Holy Spirit is the process of changing man’s disposition. A life that is not moved by the Holy Spirit is not a spiritual life, but a life of religious ritual only. Only those who are often moved by the Holy Spirit, and enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, have entered into spiritual life. Man’s disposition constantly changes as he prays. The more the Spirit of God moves him, the more proactive and obedient he becomes. So, too, will his heart gradually be purified, and his disposition gradually change. Such is the effect of true prayer.
Excerpted from “Concerning the Practice of Prayer” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Sometimes, when you are enjoying the words of God, your spirit is touched, and you feel that you cannot help but love God, that there is great strength within you, and that there is nothing that you cannot put aside. If you feel like this, then you have been touched by the Spirit of God, and your heart has wholly turned to God, and you will pray to God and say: “O God! We truly have been predestined and chosen by You. Your glory gives me pride, and it feels glorious for me to be one of Your people. I will expend anything and give anything to do Your will, and will devote all my years, and an entire lifetime of efforts, to You.” When you pray like this, there will be unending love and true obedience toward God in your heart. Have you ever had such an experience as this? If people are often touched by the Spirit of God, then they are especially willing to devote themselves to God in their prayers: “O God! I wish to behold Your day of glory, and I wish to live for You—nothing is more worthy or meaningful than to live for You, and I have not the slightest desire to live for Satan and the flesh. You raise me up by enabling me to live for You today.” When you have prayed in this way, you will feel that you cannot help but give your heart to God, that you must gain God, and that you would hate to die without having gained God while you are alive. Having spoken such a prayer, there will be an inexhaustible strength within you, and you will not know from where it comes; in your heart there will be limitless power, and you will have a sense that God is so lovely, and that He is worth loving. This is when you will have been touched by God. All those who have had such an experience have been touched by God. For those who are often touched by God, changes occur in their lives, they are able to make their resolution and are willing to completely gain God, the love for God in their hearts is stronger, their hearts have completely turned to God, they hold no regard for family, the world, entanglements, or their future, and they are willing to devote a lifetime of efforts to God. All those who have been touched by the Spirit of God are people who pursue the truth, and who have hope of being made perfect by God.
Excerpted from “Know God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Most people do not pray truly much of the time; they merely think back to the past, with scant knowledge in their minds and a willingness to repent, yet they have neither contemplated nor fathomed the truth. To contemplate God’s words and seek the truth while praying is far more profound than mere recollection and knowledge. The stirrings visited on you by the work of the Holy Spirit and the enlightenment and illumination His work supplies to you through God’s words lead you to true knowledge and true repentance; they are much more profound than human thoughts and knowledge. This is something you must know well. If you engage merely in superficial, haphazard thinking and examination, you have no fitting path on which to practice, and you make little progress toward the truth, then you will remain incapable of change. There are times, for instance, when people resolve to expend themselves in earnest for God, and to repay His love in earnest—yet, with this desire, you may not expend yourself with much energy, and your heart may not be wholly committed to the endeavor. If, however, having prayed and been moved, you make a resolution and say, “God, I am willing to suffer hardship; I am willing to accept Your trials; and I am willing to submit to You completely. No matter how great my suffering, I am willing to repay Your love. I enjoy Your great love, and You have raised me up so—for this, I thank You from the bottom of my heart, and give all glory unto You,” after having offered such a prayer, your whole body will be empowered, and you will have a path on which to practice. This is the effect of prayer. After a person prays, the Holy Spirit sets to work on them, enlightening, illuminating, and guiding them, and giving them the faith and courage necessary to put the truth into practice. There are people who read God’s words daily without achieving such a result, yet, having read them, when they fellowship about them, their hearts grow bright, and they find something of a way forward. If, in addition, the Holy Spirit moves you a bit and gives you a bit of guidance, as well as a bit of a burden, the results will be very different indeed. When you read God’s words on your own, you may be somewhat moved, and you may weep, only to have the feeling pass after a short while. If, however, you offer a tearful prayer, an earnest prayer, or a prayer that is genuine and sincere, then you will be given such vigor as can last for days. This is the effect of prayer. The purpose of prayer is to have people come before God and accept that which He would give them. If you pray often, and come often before God to commune with Him, and have a normal relationship with Him, then you will always be moved inside by Him, and will always receive His provisions—and one who always receives God’s provisions is changed, and their conditions are ever improving. In particular, when brothers and sisters pray together, an especially great energy arises afterward, and they feel they have gained a great deal. In truth, they may not have fellowshiped much in their time together; it was prayer that roused them, such that they could not wait a second longer to renounce their families and the world, and they wanted nothing, and having God alone sufficed. What great faith! The power that the Holy Spirit’s work gives man can be enjoyed without end! How far can you go without relying on that power, but bracing yourself and stiffening your neck as you walk on, or depending on your own perseverance and willpower? Not far ahead is where you will fall and be degraded; as you walk, your strength will fail. People must maintain their contact with God unto the end! Yet man, as he walks on, strays far from God. God is God, man is man, and each follows their own path; God speaks the words of God, and man walks his own path, which is not the same as God’s. When a person loses strength in their belief in God, they come before God to pray a few words and borrow a bit of strength. After they have got some energy, they depart once more. In a while, they run out of fuel, and come back to God for more. When acting this way, a person cannot sustain it for a long time; if a person leaves God, they have no way forward.
Excerpted from “The Significance of Prayer and Its Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Now you should be able to clearly see the precise path that Peter took. If you can clearly see Peter’s path, then you will be certain about the work being done today, so you will not complain or be passive, or long for anything. You should experience Peter’s mood at the time: He was stricken with sorrow; he no longer asked for a future or any blessings. He did not seek profit, happiness, fame, or fortune in the world; he only sought to live the most meaningful life, which was to repay God’s love and dedicate what he held utterly most precious to God. Then he would be satisfied in his heart. He often prayed to Jesus with the words: “Lord Jesus Christ, I once loved You, but I never truly loved You. Though I said I had faith in You, I never loved You with a true heart. I only looked up to You, adored You, and missed You, but I never loved You nor truly had faith in You.” He constantly prayed to make his resolution, and he was always encouraged by the words of Jesus and drew motivation from them. Later, after a period of experience, Jesus tested him, provoking him to yearn for Him further. He said: “Lord Jesus Christ! How I miss You, and long to look upon You. I lack too much, and cannot make up for Your love. I beg You to soon take me away. When will You have need of me? When will You take me away? When will I once again look upon Your face? I do not wish to live any longer in this body, to continue becoming corrupted, nor do I wish to rebel any further. I am ready to dedicate all I have to You as soon as I can, and I do not wish to sadden You any further.” This is how he prayed, but he did not know at the time what Jesus would perfect in him. During the agony of his test, Jesus appeared to him again and said: “Peter, I wish to make you perfect, such that you become a piece of fruit, one that is the crystallization of My perfection of you, and which I will enjoy. Can you truly testify for Me? Have you done what I ask you to do? Have you lived out the words I have spoken? You once loved Me, but though you loved Me, have you lived Me out? What have you done for Me? You recognize that you are unworthy of My love, but what have you done for Me?” Peter saw that he had done nothing for Jesus and remembered his previous oath to give his life to God. And so, he no longer complained, and his prayers from then on grew much better. He prayed, saying: “Lord Jesus Christ! I once left You, and You too once left me. We have spent time apart, and time together in company. Yet You love me more than all else. I have repeatedly rebelled against You and repeatedly grieved You. How can I forget such things? I am always bearing in mind and never forget the work You have done on me and what You have entrusted me with. I have done everything that I can for the work You have done on me. You know what I can do, and You further know what role I can play. I wish to submit to Your orchestrations, and I will dedicate everything I have to You. Only You know what I can do for You. Although Satan fooled me so much and I rebelled against You, I believe You do not remember me for those transgressions and that You do not treat me based on them. I wish to dedicate my entire life to You. I ask for nothing, and neither do I have other hopes or plans; I only wish to act according to Your intention and to do Your will. I will drink from Your bitter cup, and I am Yours to command.”
Excerpted from “How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh